Protect Your Deck Railing from the Grill with a Blanket


A deck is such a convenient place to grill your supper. Just outside the house, enjoy the summer weather, all while keeping the heat and smoke out of your house. But with every grill, you have heat clearance issues. Barbeques need to be far enough away from anything burnable as not to damage them, which is hard on a small deck. Once you pull the grill far enough away from the railing, its to close to the house. Or just in an awkward place to work around, sitting n the middle of the deck. But what can you do to protect the deck railing from the grill? For you can have your grill closer to the railing and out of the way on your deck.

The simplest way to protect deck railing from the grill is a wool or welding blanket before firing up the grill drape the blanket over the railing, protecting it from heat and flames. Then after the grill has cooled down, fold up and put away returning your railing to its former beauty.

There are two risks with a grill close to the deck’s railing, heat and flame. The railing must not be overheated as to damage the railing or ignite into flames. Or be scorched by flames from the grill when you flip those juice patties. Whatever you use to protect the deck, the railing must be heat-insulating and flame resistant. Keeping the deck railing safe while grillingOpens in a new tab. beside it.

When I first heard about railing being damaged from a grill, my first thought was the solution is railing material. Railing material with a higher combustion level increasing flame resistance will solve the problem, which is partly true as temperature varies for railing material to be damaged.

  • Composite Railing as low as 176°F [80°C]
  • Wood railing can be blackened at only 350°F [176°C].
  • Aluminum melts at 1220°F [660.3°C].

Different deck railing will require different levels of protection. But as much as you love to grill on your deck, you do not grill all the time. Your deck railing is as much about a look as safety. And that look may not include heat resistant deck railing. But blankets can protect the railing while the grill is in use but allow you to enjoy the deck otherwise.

But not just any blankets, as some covers will burn quicker than the railing. Blankets for protecting the railing must be either wool or welding blankets as both are made from flame-resistant material and will insulate the railing from heat.

Using wool blankets to protect the deck railing

Wool is a fantastic material in that it is naturally fire-resistant because of its high nitrogen and water content. Wool has cross-linked cell membranes structure that swells when heated, forming an insulating layer preventing flames spread. Its as if wool knows when it needs to stop flames and tighten ups to stop the flame from getting through.

But how does wool work for protecting deck railing? My first concern is flare-ups. When you open the lid and flames burst out, searing everything around the grill. Or flipping your burgers and the grease bursts out in flames.

“Resists fire – wool will not support a flame below 1100F; conforms to Class A of the ASTM E84 test.”

Havelock WoolOpens in a new tab.

Which, for short bursts of flames, will prevent searing of the railing. As the wool needs to be heated to over 1100°F (593°C) to burn. The flames may sear the fibres of the wool but will not burn. More importantly, the fire will not touch the deck railing.

Second, how insulative is a wool blanket? Your grill inside will be around 500-550°F[260-288°C] to put a good sear on your steaks. But that heat must be reduced to a safe temperature before touching the railing, which for composite as low as 176°F [80°C]. You need to roughly insulate the railing enough to drop the temperature 300°F (150°C).

“Sheep wool insulation has a thermal conductivity of between 0.035 – 0.04 W/mK,”

The Green AgeOpens in a new tab.

The lower the W/mK, the better the insulation value and wool is low. Doing an outstanding job of shielding the railing from the heat of the grill. Allowing you to grill your steaks on high but keeping your railing cool.

Still a good idea to keep on eye on the railing the first few times you use your barbeque. After the grill warms-up, just slip your hand behind the blanket to see how hot it’s getting. Check again after a few minutes to make sure the railing is staying cool. Better safe than sorry.

If one layer is not protecting the railing enough, a second blanket will double the insulation value. Protecting the railing even more against the grill’s heat.

No worry about the blanket being to close to the grill. This guy wrapped his smoker with a wool blanket.

Required features for railing blanket

Not all wool blankets are made alike. You don’t want just a nice wool blanket. You want one that is fire resistant.

A lot of wool blankets are not 100% wool but a blend. Synthetic fibres are added to increase the strength of wool or make it more workable. A wool fire blanket you want at least 70% wool, but more is better because of wool’s natural resistance to fire.

Check the labelling of the blanket. If the wool blanket is intended to be fire retardant, it will be labelled as such. Conforming to Federal Flammable Fabric Acts CS-191-53 in the United States. Other countries will vary in legislates but should meet or exceed the American Standards.

Finally, you want a blanket large enough to protect the railing. A blanket 60″ (1.5m) by 84″ (2.1m) is a good size as it will easily drape over the railing. I remember my mother drying blankets hanging over the railing. The same concept accepts this time it’s protecting the railing.

It can be hard to find a quality wool blanket at times. Ektos manufactures quality wool blankets that can be ordered online from the convenience of your home.

Premium Quality Blankets at Affordable Price”

EKTOS

If I were recommending wool blankets for comfort, there would be many things to discuss, for wool blankets are phenomenal products trusted for thousands of years.

From shepherds to kings, all have enjoyed wool’s comfort and warmth.

But for now, we are looking for deck railing protection from the grill.

Ektos blankets meet or exceed these requirements.

  • Made from 80, 90 and 100% wool
  • No added Fire Retardant, natural wool
  • Can be cleaned
  • Large enough to cover railing, 66″ x 90″ (1670x2280mm)

The 80% blend has the least colour options, with the 90% having the most colour options. Including navy blue, a personal favourite but may not be ideal for the deck. With most decks being more of the grey or brown colour palette.

Order from Amazon

Word of Caution About Cleaning Your Wool Blanket From Grill Splatter.

The 90% blend has many more negative reviews than the 80% or 100%. Not sure why this is. The primary complaint is about washing which I have a helpful hint, but I will get to that later.

I do wonder if it has a little something to do with pricing. I was recently talking with my decking supplier about scratching of composite decking. An often raised concern with composite decking. He pointed out it wasn’t so much about the decking cap and complaints but the price. The entry-level capped composite decking scratches about the same as the premium boards.

Except when people pay twice as much, they complain more about the damage.

This leaves me wondering, is the increase in price between the cheaper 80% blanket and the more expensive 90% also increases dissatisfaction despite being equal in performance. 

Not sure, but be advised, when reading reviews, you will see more negatives ones for the 90% wool blanket than the other options.

It maybe its just better to buy the more economical one knowing that if it does get damage it will not cost less to replace.

Regardless of which one you order, they will all cost less to replace than your deck railing.

Washing Railing Protection Tip

Now the tip, I wish I had thought of this myself, but this came from a professional.

Often it’s not the blankets’ fault but the washing machine’s for the damage. Do not wash in a top load washing machine. The agitator will twist or possibly shred the blanket. Use only a front load washing machine, gentle cycle with cold water. Will minimize damage.

Next, don’t tumble dry in your dryer. Air-dry it on the line.

Even better, draped over your deck railing while you are grilling supper.

Protecting deck railing with welding Blankets

There are two significant differences between a fibreglass welding blanket and a wool fire blanket. The obvious, wool is a natural product, but a welding blanket is synthetic.

The second significant difference, being synthetic is has a higher flame-resistant range. Not that a welding blanket will protect your railing better, but some will. Similar to natural wood decking versus synthetic decking like composite. Both will meet the base level requirements, but you can go higher with synthetic at a price. Some capped PVC comes with a 50-year warranty, but treated wood decking should last 25 years but no guarantee.

Carbonized Acrylic Felt Welding Blanket will protect up to 2000°F (1093°C) almost twice the protection of a wool blanket. Such a high level of protection will come at a price. A welding heavy duty welding blanket of similar size to wool will cost around four times as much. Well over a hundred dollars for a welding blanket. More than wool but still significantly cheaper than new deck railing.

Steel Guard Safety also has a good selection of welding blankets. With varying degrees of protection and size. If you are like me, welding shops are not my weekly shopping trip, but ordering online will make it easy. Click here to go to Steel Guard Safety to order a welding blanket to protect your deck railing.

Conclusion in Protecting your deck railing from your grill

Of course, you could use deck railing that is fire and heat resistance and doesn’t need protection. But if this option doesn’t provide the deck look, you are looking for two possible options are a wool blanket or welding blanket. Both will protect most railing against flames and heat from your grill, but a heavy-duty welding blanket can protect against higher temperatures and flames.

Which one is best for your deck and grill depends on the level of heat coming off your grill and temperature rating of your railing. Never assume that your grill is safe, and the blanket will protect the railing. Pay close attention to the heat and flame and how the blanket is protecting. If the railing gets too hot under the blanket, shut your grill off and move away before damaging the railing.

But a fire blanket could be the solution to allow you to enjoy your grill and your deck.

Ryan Nickel

A Red Seal carpenter, passionate about building decks to be enjoyed.

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